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Cleveland Metroparks Zoo hosting electronic recycling drive to help save endangered gorillas

The drive is Friday, April 22 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Posted at 7:46 AM, Apr 21, 2022

CLEVELAND — There is an opportunity in Cleveland for you to safely get rid of your old cell phones, not worry about the data being compromised, and help an endangered species.

"The big draw right now is our gorilla group and our new baby gorilla, Kayembe," said Dr. Chris Kuhar, the executive director of Cleveland Metroparks Zoo.

The first gorilla baby born at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo is now 6 months old. He is adorable, busy, and you can't take your eyes off him.

Watch his debut in the media player below:

Newborn gorilla makes debut at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo

The zoo is hoping the attention will help raise awareness about gorilla conservation and an easy way you can make a difference.

Gorillas are gentle giants who've been greatly impacted by humans, including loss of habitat in central Africa from mining for essential components used in small electronics, like cell phones.

"It's not realistic to tell people 'Don't have a cell phone or don't have a laptop,'" said Kuhar. "What you can do, you don't always have to get the newest upgrade right away. You can extend the life of your device and that helps a little bit, and you can recycle cell phones and tablets that are no longer working, or when you do an upgrade."

On Earth Day, the zoo is partnering with MCPc Secure Asset Disposition Center to safely recycle your old cell phones and small devices. Their secure recycling center is located just down the road in Old Brooklyn.

"You talk to so many people and they have a junk drawer with stuff, a bunch of electronics, and no one knows what to do with it and feel comfortable they're getting rid of it appropriately," said Keith Slaby, operations supervisor for the Secure Technology Asset Disposition Center at MCPc.

The tech company's secure recycling service is usually reserved for businesses they work with, but for the Earth Day event, they're offering the service free to the public—using their software to wipe devices of all data before recycling.

"Here at MCPc we have an audited process that goes through multiple steps to assure that all of our customer data is safe, and ultimately destroyed in a way that it can never be found," said Slaby. "We use a state-of-the-art software program that erases devices that are being re-used, and anything that can't be re-used will come back over here and be shredded into very tiny pieces before we send it back to the recycling stream."

Slaby says those conflict minerals can be refined and reused; reducing the demand for natural resources. It is a process he says they don't do at their facility but use a vetted downstream vendor.

"Our facility here in Old Brooklyn is an e-Steward certified facility and part of our certification process requires that we audit all of our downstream vendors to ensure they meet all of the environmental requirements that we adhere to here and ultimately to ensure that we can track material," he said.

Electronic waste represents 2% of everything in American landfills, but it contributes 70% of all toxic waste, says Slaby. Despite extensive education campaigns, the EPA estimates less than 20% of unwanted cell phones are recycled every year.

The free electronic recycling drive is happening on Earth Day, which is Friday, April 22 at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Electronic devices accepted at the event include desktop & laptop computers, LCD monitors, mobile devices such as smartphones, all generations of cell phones, tablets, data storage devices, networking devices (routers, switches, hubs), printers and fax machines, and peripherals, such as keyboards, mice, and docking stations.

Items that will be accepted include CRT monitors and televisions, light bulbs, medical or laboratory equipment, household appliances, or bulk batteries. For a complete list of acceptable, and not acceptable items, visit

MCPc has also pledged to use the money earned through this consumer e-recycling event to support gorilla conservation.

“We hope people get excited about Kayembe and really passionate about gorillas and think twice about how they're dealing with their technology and think about what they can do to help,” said Kuhar.

RELATED: First gorilla ever born at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo receives 'extraordinary' name

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